MSU pegged as 2013 Legends division favorites

Submitted by lonewolf371 on May 9th, 2013 at 7:49 AM

CBS has a summary article here:

The original site with the odds is here:

Part of this is scheduling, as MSU gets Michigan at home and doesn't have to play Ohio State, Wisconsin, or Penn State from the Leaders division. Michigan obviously travels to Penn State and has to play Ohio State at home, so presumably the only good team in the conference Michigan will miss next year will be Wisconsin. Add that to the fact that tough road games seem like a guaranteed loss for Michigan over Hoke's first two years and you could see the Wolverines racking up enough losses to send Sparty back to the championship game.

I'm a little bit surprised they have Northwestern so low. They get MSU and Michigan at home, although I guess when you combine that with road games against Nebraska and Wisconsin and a home game against tOSU they don't get off so easy.

In any case, this is another exhibit in the horribleness of the current division configuration where MSU's cross-division rival is Indiana while Michigan's is Ohio State. It will be nice when no such arrangements exist any more.



May 9th, 2013 at 8:53 AM ^

This season will be MSU's best chance for a LONG time.  Sparty does return a good portion of their team from last season, which usually means you can expect good things.  Considering their joke of a schedule, I can see how people might give them a chance to win the division.  Still, if they don't come through this season, another opportunity won't come around anytime soon.

Still, I'm with the majority opinion here as I don't know how a 6-6 team loses it's three best players and somehow finds a way to win 10 or 11 games.  I see 2013 MSU disappointing much the same way 2012 MSU did.   


May 9th, 2013 at 9:05 AM ^

In the first eight games of MSU's schedule, there is only one team that they play which had a 2012 Sagarin number above 70.00, and that would be Notre Dame. Michigan State also plays five teams in their conference schedule whose rating was below the mean for the conference.

For comparison, we play three opponents with ratings above 70.00 in the first eight games, and only three opponents on the conference schedule with ratings below the conference mean for 2012. 

Then again, if it is going to be an interesting journey just to get inside the 20 yard line, as it may be for State this year, I suppose you would want to do what State has done and open your conference schedule with the four worst defenses in the conference per last season's stats for total defense. 

It will be interesting to see the Strength Of Schedule ratings come out around the end of July or so (I think that's when they start to appear anyway). As others have mentioned, between the schedule and this being the last year of this arrangement, it might be ages before they have another real opportunity. 


May 9th, 2013 at 9:12 AM ^

you are picking the most sure to win a majority of conference games of 6 teams. you have UM, MSU, Minn, NW, Nb and Iowa. well, you don't think that Mn and Iowa are going to do it. leaves you with the other 4. of those 4, you can start picking nits however you want, but the key factor should be conference wins and losses.

off the bat, you know MSU has the easiest schedule, easier than UM, Nb and Nw. they return a defense that has a lot of good players that was great last year, they lost a lot of tight games and had some growing pains on offense.

MSU has @Iowa, IU, Pur, @ILL, UM, bye, @Nb, @NW, Minn - 5 w, 3 toss up, 0 L

UM has MN, @PSU, IU, bye, @MSU, Nb, @NW, @Iowa, OSU - 3 w, 5 toss up, 0 L

NB has ILL, @Pur, bye, @Mn, NW, @UM, MSU, @PSU, Iowa - 4 w, 4 toss up, 0 L

NW has OSU, @UW, Mn, @ Iowa, @ Nb, bye, UM, MSU, @ ILL - 3 w, 5 toss up, 0 L

for this, i am counting games against iowa, ill, iu, Pur and Minn as wins, all others as tossups. if i were a betting man, i might feel a bit different about NW vs OSU, but whatever.

michigan is basically installing an offense with questions at RB, no depth at QB and replacing 3 OLs, lost starters in all levels on defense and is down a punter. so, not a sure thing yet.

NW - that defense

Nb - this would be my pick, but i can see how you might pick against them

if we were MSU fans, we would look at them and say "the receivers were young and dropped a ton of balls. that alone should make maxwell's stats improve which will help out a  physical running game that, over the course of the years with Mark D, has shown the ability to plug guys in behind a sometimes suspect o-line. the defense will be stout, as always."


May 9th, 2013 at 10:15 AM ^

I never count on Michigan at Iowa as a gimmie win.  That game is always difficult.  We're 5-5 with them over the last ten meetings with two losses in a row at Kinnick.  Last ten years at Iowa:

2011 - Loss

2009 - Loss

2005 - Win OT

2003 - Loss

I know there's a widening talent gap/RR years but I always circle that game on the calendar.  

Monocle Smile

May 9th, 2013 at 10:23 AM ^

I don't agree with your "toss up" count on those schedules, but I guess it's a fair objective assessment outside of that.

MSU receivers might still drop a ton of balls, they lost their primary receiving target, Bell was not "just a guy," and while they lost close games, they also won close games. I honestly don't think their defense is going to be what it was last year.


May 9th, 2013 at 6:44 PM ^

You're comparing us to MSU, yet we're the one with a question at RB?  We have a returning multiyear starter (who should be just fine by Big Ten play) and the top RB in the country coming in.  Not to mention that even if both of those guys got hurt, our RB corps is better than theirs.  

We have no depth after DG at QB, but they don't even have a decent starter.  They lost just as much talent on defense as we did, and we are replacing our guys with much better talent.  The OL should be a wash, they have fewer to replace, but it's not like they're returning stars and they don't have Kalis-type guys to plug in.  

MSU will need to beat us to win the division, in my opinion, and I don't think they'll do it.  


May 10th, 2013 at 12:05 AM ^

Sure, it's possible, but I really doubt it.  If we beat them, we would either need to lose two more with them winning out, or we'd have to lose 3 or more non-MSU Big Ten games, which I don't see.  

They have an easier schedule, but not by enough.  Let's say they lose to us and we lose to OSU.  Then we basically have the same schedule as they do, so if they do better than us in those games, they deserve to win it. 

Perkis-Size Me

May 9th, 2013 at 10:44 AM ^

This is Michigan State's last chance to amount to anything close to a Big Ten Championship for a long time. After this, the only way they're ever going to see Pasadena is if UM, OSU and PSU are all on a bowl ban at the same time.

And when you lose your only legit playmaker in Bell, the one guy on your offense who can catch the ball in Sims, both of your corners, and all of your quarterbacks absolutely suck, well, lets just say the odds should be against you.

I do think their defense will still be good, and should keep them in just about every game, but I can't see how what was a piss-poor offense that loses its only good pieces will somehow get a lot better next year. I can see MSU losing a lot of 10-3 kind of games.


May 9th, 2013 at 10:58 AM ^

MSU was able to bottle up our offense when it was Denard at QB.  Was a good matchup for them.  Gardner will expose them as he is an efficient passer and can break contain on scrambles.  Most of Denard's runs were designed and played into the aggressive Narduzzi blitz schemes.  Devin is a more balanced dual threat and now that he is polished they will not be able to contain the offense so effectively.

Their offense is a pile of poop.  If they cant find a running game early they will be in big trouble.

Michigan 27 - MSU 10


May 9th, 2013 at 11:36 AM ^

My concern against MSU is the interior OL.  They looked lost during the spring.  The defense should be stout, maybe even a bit better than last year if they can generate a pass rush with just 4 players, but we saw how a mediocre at best interior OL really killed the running game.  If they can get that straightened out the offense should fare better than last year against MSU.  Their defense will definitely be good again though their losses in the secondary will hopefully give Gardner and Michigan an advantage.

Perkis-Size Me

May 9th, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

They did look a little lost, but that will go away over time, and especially after they get the season underway. Kalis, Bryant and Miller are all extremely talented guys, but they just need some time to gel with one another on the field. Fortunately, they're not going to be thrown into the furnace on Day 1 like they would have been last year against Bama. The CMU game will help them get the jitters out before Notre Dame, and then the Akron and UConn games will let them further fine-tune their game before conference play hits.

I think they'll be fine by the time they visit East Lansing.


May 9th, 2013 at 6:47 PM ^

Our interior OL will be the weakest part of our offense, but MSU's interior DL is nothing to write home about.  They don't have the DL talent they've had in previous years, and it's really thin as well. Those guys will either get really winded or will be subbed out by scrubs.  


May 9th, 2013 at 12:07 PM ^

The biggest reason these divisions had to go: the MSU game this year is about 100x more important to Michigan's Rose Bowl chances than the OSU game. If Michigan loses that game, they are going to need MSU to lose two more games than them on the remaining B1G schedule, which isn't going to happen given MSU's schedule. Thankfully division realignment is on the way.


May 9th, 2013 at 12:22 PM ^

They were 3-5 in the B10 last year, weren't they? And they lost 95% of their rushing attack, which was the strength of their awful offense. And the strength of their passing attack is now in the NFL. Is the rest of the B10 just going to get way worse?


May 9th, 2013 at 12:48 PM ^

because I think I saw their offense was around 100th last year, so even if there defense regresses back to just average-to-good. They're looking at 4-6 win seasons. Their offense was awful last year


May 9th, 2013 at 1:07 PM ^

Nebraska has the easier schedule overall (we finally get to play Purdue and Illinois), but Michigan gets the Huskers at home.

You guys will be favored to beat us head-to-head, Nebraska will have an easier time winning out the rest of our B1G games.

Ron Utah

May 9th, 2013 at 1:32 PM ^

I know their schedule is tougher and their personnel on defense aren't exactly up to the traditional black shirt standards, but I think they are the sleeper team in our division.  NW has a good team but will not be overlooked by anyone this year and will have to find a way to play in the 4th quarter.  MSU just doesn't have the offense to go with what will be--and let's not kid ourselves here--a very, very good defense.

Nebraska's offense will be #1 or #2 in the B1G.  Martinez has improved as a passer and they have three very good WRs and very good RB in Abdullah.  If their defense can just be decent, they are in good shape.

The ONLY thing in Sparty's favor is their schedule.  And while that's a big bonus, I just don't see a team that will be good enough to handle NW, Nebraska, and U-M.

We have the toughest road.  If we win the division, we will have earned it.  IMO, ours is one of the toughest divisions to call in all of CFB.


May 9th, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

They were supposed to win it last year too weren't they? That worked out well. An offense that could barely move the ball on a mac team until the second half. Then they had a losing record at home. So much for ''the woodshed''. 


May 9th, 2013 at 3:23 PM ^

Other than OSU, our 4 toughest BIG 10 games are PSU, MSU and NW on the road, NEB at home. We need to win 3 of these games to have a shot, given the easier schedules for both MSU and NEB. We also need to beat OSU to get to the Big 10 Championship because either NEB or MSU will only have 1 Big 10 loss. Because OSU also has an easy schedule, they will likely make it to the Championship game for sure.


May 9th, 2013 at 5:05 PM ^

I don't think that it is inconceivable that UM could lose to OSU but beat everyone else on the conference schedule and end up winning the Legends. Unlike last season, where UM faced OSU and Nebraska on the road, UM doesn't play a single team on the road who is actually better than (or even equal to) UM in my opinion.

My rankings for difficulty of conference games for UM (this takes both the strength of the opponent and where the game is played into consideration) from hardest to easiest:

  1. OSU - Only team in the B1G more talented than UM
  2. Michigan State - Pathological hatred for UM outweighs talent difficiences on offense
  3. Northwestern - Offense that UM usually struggles to contain; no real home field adv.
  4. Nebraska - Very good offense, very "meh" defense; home field for UM gives them adv.
  5. Penn State - Still won't be as bad as many predict but not all that great either; home field adv is all they have going for them in this one
  6. Iowa - bad team but they have some funky "juju" over UM in Iowa City
  7. Indiana - good offense, lousy defense; still not that talented; home field for UM
  8. Minnesota - bleh

I think IU and Minny are "auto wins" for UM while every other game is a "tossup" with UM's chances of winning any of those games ranging from 40-65%. Much greater variance in possible outcomes for UM in 2013 than in 2012 where 8-4 was the most likely result...and was exactly what happened. In 2013, I could see UM finishing anywhere from 6-6 to 12-0 as there isn't a single game that is unwinnable (or even very unlikely to win) like 2012 with Bama, @ND, @Nebaska, @OSU but there also fewer "auto wins" on the schedule as well.




May 9th, 2013 at 6:28 PM ^

They'll probably start off okay, but virtually all of their offense was Maxwell throwing it to Sims or Bell running the ball.  Those guys are gone, so they'll have to rely on a couple of meh WRs and an unproven running game.  Plus, that defense isn't going to be able to get much better than last year, and probably will slide.  Considering they went 7-6 with those guys last year, I have a hard time seeing them winning the Legends division unless everyone else craters to unheard of degrees.